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More heat on the BCS

I realize there are about a billion higher priorities for the President and the Congress to be dealing with these days, but I still really enjoy watching these guys squirm.

At a hearing Friday before the House subcommittee on commerce, trade and consumer protection, three members of Congress decried the manner in which college football decides its national champion and warned government action could be implemented should changes not be made voluntarily by the sport’s administrators.

Texas Rep. Joe L. Barton, who has introduced legislation that would prohibit the NCAA from advertising its national champion in football as such unless it was produced via a playoff system, levied the most pointed criticisms of his peers toward the Bowl Championship Series.

“It’s interesting that people of good will keep trying to tinker with the current system, and to my mind it’s a little bit like — and I don’t mean this directly — but it’s like communism,” Barton said in his opening statement. “You can’t fix it. It will not be fixable. Sooner or later, you’re going to have to try a new model, and that’s why we’re here today.”

I can’t say I endorse Smokey Joe’s rhetoric, but I stand with him on the nature of the problem and the need for a real solution. And hey, better he focus on something he has some hope of actually understanding.

Four high-ranking college football officials testified before the subcommittee. Proponents of the current BCS system predicted that renowned bowl games would become endangered if a playoff system was initiated.

“It will be very difficult for any bowl, including the current BCS bowls, which are among the oldest and most established in the game’s history, to survive” because sponsorships and television revenue would go toward playoff games, BCS coordinator and ACC Commissioner John Swofford said. “Certainly the 29 games that are not part of the BCS would be in peril.”

Okay, first of all new bowl games have been popping up like weeds even though none of them have any hope of ever having anything to do with a national championship. I don’t see why a transition to a playoff system would imperil such games. Hell, there are now three postseason men’s basketball tournaments that are not the NCAA championships. I see no reason why there could not continue to be ancillary postseason events in football; it’s not like the demand for more football is going to go down, after all. Finally, the “oldest and most established” bowls are ginormous boondoggles that drain money away from the universities and conferences that participate in them; they are long overdue for extinction. We may or may not be able to fix global warming and the financial crisis, but we can damn sure do something about that.

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One Comment

  1. Kent from Waco says:

    At least if “Smokey” Joe is obsessing over the BCS he’s more likely to stay out of trouble.

    But he does have a point of course. The whole bowl thing has turned into such a fiasco under the BCS. At least in the old pre-BCS days when the bowls had conference tie-ins they were interesting. I grew up on the west coast and so remember watching a long string of Rose Bowl games in which Michigan or Ohio State would show up each January 1st for their annual beating. And there were a lot of great Orange Bowls on TV with Nebraska and Oklahoma. These days it is such a random hodge-podge that most BCS bowl games are utterly forgettable. Except for those few in which the underdog wins like the Boise St Fiesta Bowl and last year’s Utah win in the Sugar Bowl.

    Quick, tell me who played in last year’s Orange bowl? Or any of the last three. Anyone?

    In 2009 it was Virginia Tech over Cincinnati. The year before? It was Kansas over Virginia Tech. And in 2007 it was Louisville over Wake Forest. Anyone even remember any of those games?

    How about the pre-BCS 1984 Orange Bowl in which Miami beat Nebraska 31-30 after Nebraska went for 2 and the win at the end of the game and failed? Right. That one you remember if you were alive to watch college football in 1984.

    In 10 years, the BCS system has produced only one memorable championship game. The 2005 Texas victory over USC. The rest of them? Unless your team was in the championship, none of them were memorable.

    A playoff system would produce far more memorable games. Especially one in which the early rounds are home games for the higher seeded teams, just like in the NFL. Imagine the Cinderella story if a Boise State had gone into a December snowstorm in Happy Valley and taken a playoff win against Penn St in front of 105,000 rabid fans. And then imagine the national interest in the following weeks game against the next opponent. Those would be some TV ratings.